“I submit that if Taco does not start a lineup with active NFL players—not NHL, CFL, WWE, or Panthro from the ThunderCats—that he shall be kicked out of this league.”
Taken from The League, an American show on FX about a fantasy football league and its members, this quote has inspired me this week. In some ways it also makes me wish I was part of a league of this sort and that my life was as ridiculous as this TV show, but nonetheless there are lessons that can be taken forward as we Canadians north of the border prepare for Oct. 8 – the opening night of the NHL regular season.
Many leagues have already started preparing their fantasy hockey lineups for the NHL season, but many more are in the midst of preparing for their drafts and ultimately playing for bragging rights, money, shits and giggles or just to stave off embarrassment in the world of fantasy sports.
There is no bigger feeling than besting your buds while you wheel and deal like you’re Steve Yzerman, Dean Lombardi, Stan Bowman or Ken Holland.
With that, it’s time we look at the dos and don'ts of fantasy sports.
Do: Put some stock in goalies. It’s always the big debate; when is too early to take Carey Price (or a goaltender of greater or equal value)? Most years I’m more torn than Natalie Imbruglia over what round to take a keeper of the cage, but when you wait too long it can come back to bite you because you’re stuck with Ben Scrivens.
Don’t: Avoid taking too many centres early in the draft. There are more talented centres than there are MacDonalds in a Pictou County phonebook, so take your Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos early, but try to hold off a few rounds before snagging another. Normally it’s getting solid wingers that becomes the issue and sometimes that’s because of what Yahoo, or whatever system you’re using, has a player labelled as.
Don’t: Offer too many trades, especially if they’re more unreasonable than the cost of the cover to the Roseland on a Friday night. Nobody thinks you’re funny when you offer Sean Avery for Alexander Ovechkin. Literally nobody thinks that, so just stop what you’re doing and use your brain. Send me a deal worth looking at.
Do: Be wary of rookies and sophomores. Not everyone is a Nathan MacKinnon or Sidney Crosby in their first year in the league. Be bold if you want, but don’t get too excited over the prospect of, well, a prospect. That should also be considered when looking at a player going into his second season in the league. Just cause he was hot in his first season doesn’t mean he’s going to be consistent. Not that Dan Boyle is the best defenceman in the NHL, but he’s always been one of those guys I’ve been able to rely on in fantasy hockey. There are a few others, but I can’t divulge all my secrets.
Don’t: Select players because you’re a fan of the team. Sure the Toronto Maple Leafs may win some hockey games, but drafting Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul or Dion Phaneuf likely won’t win you many matchups in a head-to-head pool. They won’t do too much for you in a roto pool either. Stay away from who your favourite players are and stick with who’s going to win you a fantasy hockey championship.
Don’t: Trash talk (too much). Especially right after the draft, there’s no room for trash talk. Throwing around comments like “your team looks worse than the Vancouver Canucks” or “a puddle after a sun shower has more depth than your team” are way too premature. Keep the trash talk at a minimum, but if you’re playing head-to-head style try to mess with their head a little or if you complete an unbelievable comeback after a rough start to the week, make it known. Again, watch how you do it and how often because you don’t want to be “that guy” in your league. The message boards are for more important things than you puffing your chest out.
Don’t: Leave your lineup stagnant. Nobody likes this. A week or two of not adjusting your lineup is acceptable, so long as there is a valid excuse and you make the appropriate sacrifices to the hockey gods, but drafting a team (manually or on auto) and then forgetting about it for the rest of the year ruins it for everybody. It takes away from the fun and competitiveness that brought everyone together in the first place. If you feel you can’t look after it anymore talk to your league about giving your team to someone else for the duration of the season or something, just do anything other than leaving it rot at the bottom of the barrel that is your fantasy league.
There are more things than those, but those are the high points of the dos and don’ts of fantasy hockey. If you’re doubting yourself going into a draft then pick up a fantasy guide, but buyer beware, those aren’t a bible and can’t be taken as perfect truth. Use it as nothing but a guide to keep you on track.
Draft well and good luck this season.
Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NGNewsChris. His column runs weekly on Wednesdays.